Socialist Worker

Outrage as refugees dragged from mosque

Issue No. 1811

IMMIGRATION MINISTER Beverley Hughes ordered a police deportation squad to smash down the doors of a West Midlands mosque and snatch two traumatised asylum seekers on Thursday of last week. The abduction of Farid and Feriba Ahmad has created outrage.

'These two refugees escaped from persecution by the Taliban in Afghanistan,' Salman Mirza of the Ahmad Family Campaign told Socialist Worker.

'They faced racism in Germany and so came to Britain. They've lived in Lye in the West Midlands for a year and they have settled in, together with their two children. The kids are doing really well at school and the parents are learning English at college. The local school and trade unions all back them.

Blunkett goes on about how refugees don't integrate, but the Ahmads were integrated and even then it's not good enough. They're still threatened with deportation. About a month ago we heard that the Home Office wanted to deport them back to Germany, and so the Ahmads took refuge in the Ghausia Jamia mosque. The children stayed with a family friend.'

Jim Warner, a teacher in Dudley, said, 'Campaigners had an all-night vigil with the family. Just after morning prayers at 5am police riot vans charged up the road. We managed to lock the door but the police broke in violently. The Ahmads were both extremely distressed. This was like a flashback to everything they've faced-the oppression and the racist abuse. Feriba was terrified.

She has had two nervous breakdowns in the past. We tried to see Beverley Hughes at her surgery on Saturday but she refused to see us. Now the parents are waiting at Harmondsworth detention centre to be deported. They won a last minute reprieve that meant they couldn't be forced from Britain without their children. The Ahmads have lost two asylum appeals in Germany, so when they get there it will be next stop Afghanistan.'

The Ahmads can contribute to society. Feriba is a nurse and Farid is a mechanic. The campaign continues to allow the family to stay in Britain.
Fax messages of protest to Beverley Hughes on 020 7219 2961. For details of the Ahmad Family Campaign phone 07967 539 771

'I love it here'

'IT WAS so frightening. My head was all mixed up. We did not know they were coming then. They had no right to enter a place of religion the way they did. It was very wrong. I love it here and I want to stay here with my family.

My daughter loves school, has many friends and speaks good English. I don't want to take anything from the government. I want freedom, and a better future for my children. When I was in Afghanistan I always dreamt of coming to England for a better life.'
FERIBA AHMAD speaking after the police raid on the mosque last week.

Wider assaults

THE ATTACK on the mosque is one part of home secretary David Blunkett's assault on refugees. Blunkett wants to deport 30,000 'failed' asylum seekers a year. The deportation rate is running at around 1,000 a month. Four immigration 'snatch squads' are set to start soon.

Last week 13 asylum seekers appeared in Luton Crown Court for a preliminary hearing. They are accused of taking part in a riot that led to the burning down of Yarls Wood detention centre earlier this year. Water sprinklers were not installed at the centre and the authorities held back the fire service from entering the burning. The accused will appear in court again in September.

Separate services

THE RIGHT wing tabloids went hysterical last weekend claiming that private health companies like BUPA will provide 'luxury' healthcare for asylum seekers in detention centres. They want to present a picture of refugees getting much better services than other people. This is not the case.

The government wants to dump refugees in isolated areas such as Throckmorton in Worcestershire, Bicester in Oxfordshire and Newton in Nottinghamshire. The pro-refugee campaigners against these detention centres have attacked the idea of giving refugee children a segregated education and isolating refugees from local services like doctors.

The government wants to create ghettos for refugees-and that means separate services. The solution is not detention centres with apartheid-style health and education. It is integrating asylum seekers into the local community and improving local services, such as health, to meet everybody's needs.

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Article information

Sat 3 Aug 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1811
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